The National Commission for Minorities has concluded after a probe that policemen showed "scant regard for human life" and instead focused on damage to private industrial property during a gruesome crackdown in Bihar’s Forbesganj on June 3.
The police gunned down four persons, including a seven-month-old infant and a pregnant woman, after the villagers tried to bring down a wall on the government-acquired land given to an entrepreneur.
In a grisly video of the incident, shot by an onlooker and uploaded on Youtube, men in uniform are seen wreaking vengeance by stomping on the body of a man killed, as district superintendent of police Garima Sharma looks on. All those killed or injured belonged to a minority community.
The killings had sparked outrage and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had visited the village, Bhajanpura, to meet the survivors.
The minority watchdog’s report, though it blames police for acting indiscriminately, throws up sociological reasons that have pitted the local Ansari community against industry. Once weavers, they have now been reduced to being entirely landless labourers, the report found.
According to the findings, the villagers were protesting because the upcoming factory blocked a road, the only link between the village and the outside world. It cut off the villagers’ only way to their mosque, their markets, their workplaces and indeed the rest of the state, the report has found.
"Their daily journey out of the Bhajanpur village and through the disputed road is an absolute necessity,” minority watchdog chief Wajahat Habibullah said in his report.
The panel has recommended the Bihar government to not only give adequate compensation but also make available an alternative road to the villagers.
Land acquisition currently poses a key political risk in several states, with peasants increasingly resisting takeover of farmland for factories.